Rethinking the Assumptions of Refugee Policy: Beyond Individualism to the Challenge of Inclusive Communities
The values of individualism developed in the post-Enlightenment West are at the core of the contemporary refugee protection system. While enormously powerful, this tradition assigns priority to the individual as distinguished from the community. Based on patterns established in centuries of religious thought and practice as well as on the insights of key thinkers in the tradition of Western individualism, this paper argues that consideration of communities should receive greater emphasis. In terms of the refugee protection system, this shift requires examining how best to address the needs of communities that are uprooted, as well as the needs of communities into which displaced persons are received, rather than only focusing on individuals who cross a border and seek refugee status.